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Dew Course

Adapted from a discourse by the Alter Rebbe by Rabbi Yossi Marcus[1]


Beginning with the week of Devarim and through the holidays of Tishrei, the discourses of Likutei Torah set the tone for the period of introspection and Teshuvah of the month of Elul, the Days of Awe. This discourse begins uses a verse regarding the manna in this week’s Torah portion to describe the renaissance the soul can experience when its host body pays it some attention.

And He fed you the manna...to teach you that not on bread alone does man live, but on what issues forth from the mouth of Havayah does man live...[2]

The manna is associated with the level of Dew.

[Rain represents Divine beneficence that descends in response to human deed, just as rain is formed from risen moisture. Dew, in contrast, represents Divine beneficence that stems from a place where human deed is irrelevant. Rain is reciprocal; dew self-initiated. The manna, which arrived from heaven without any human effort--physical or otherwise--is therefore associated with dew.]

Thus the manna arrived in the desert with a layer of dew above and below it.[3]

[Incidentally, this is the source for the custom to surround the Shabbos challah: a board or plate is placed beneath the challah and a cover placed upon it.]

This same dew will be used in the future to resurrect the dead.[4]

[In his notes to Likutei Torah, Rabbi Rivlin cites the following comment by the Meiri, which draws a parallel between the manna and the resurrection of the dead:

Rambam writes that during the era of the resurrection of the dead, man will exist in a physical form, but he will not eat or drink. Such an existence parallels the existence of the Israelites in the desert, where although sustained by the manna, were “pained and starved”[5] since they had to trust in G-d that it would arrive the next day. Thus, in a sense, although they ate, it was if they did not eat, paralleling the era of the resurrection of the dead as described by Rambam.] 

Now the resurrection of the dead is a phenomenon that stems from G-d's abundant mercy. As we say in the Shemone Esrei, “He resurrects the dead with abundant mercy.”

The level called "abundant mercy," rachamim rabim stems from a sublime place in the Divine scheme. This is reflected in the human sphere, where the greater the person, the greater his capacity for mercy. Thus a king has the greatest capacity for mercy because of his incomparable superiority over his ministers and subjects. Their immense inferiority in his eyes brings out his mercies upon them.

Similarly, the Ohr Ein Sof looks upon all of creation with great mercy, since it is all as naught before Him.[6] Even the loftiest worlds are utterly subordinate to Him, as it is written, “Even the heavens do not find merit before Him.”[7]

This mercy extends even to the righteous in Gan Eden. For there they enjoy only a reflection of the Divine light. However, they are to be pitied because they remain outside of the Divine essence. For of they would be one with the Ein Sof their selves would be lost and it would not be said of them that they are “enjoying” the Divine light.

[The Alter Rebbe was known to enter a state of dveykut, utter oneness with Divine consciousness. When in such a state he would often exclaim in Yiddish: “Ich vil ze garnist. Ich vil nit dain Gan Eden, ich vil nisht dain oilam haba, ich vil mer nit az dich alein!

“I want nothing. I don’t want Your Gan Eden, I don’t want Yours truly, World to Come, I want no less they You Yourself!”[8]]

A wise person should meditate upon this to awaken abundant mercy upon his soul, on the Divine spark within him, which is literally a part of Divinity. In other words, the soul comes from a consciousness that is beyond time and space or any of the limitations of physical existence. And now it is shackled and fettered within the transient worldly concerns of the human being. The light that it knows to be true is obscured by what is essentially nothingness.

Even a soul whose host studies Torah is not always at ease. For often the study of Torah is done not to cleave to the Divine but to increase one’s knowledge to flatter the ego. Such study is referred to as existing “under the sun” and falls into the category of “vanity and evil spirit.”[9]

When a person meditates on the sorry state of his soul, he awakens abundant mercy upon himself and thereby resurrects his soul literally like the resurrection of the dead. For this awakens the heavenly Dew, as it is written, “Your dew is a dew of lights”[10] referring to the “dew that drips from the mouth of Atik.”[11]

[Atik refers to the sphere where “there is no left side”—it is beyond the source for concealment. When this level is revealed, even the dead come alive.] 

In other words, the resurrection of the dead takes place when there is a Divine revelation of such intensity that even in a place that has a minimal amount of spiritual light is elevated and united with G-d, as smaller flame becomes one in the larger flame of a torch.

In an identical way, a person can “resurrect” his soul by awakening the abundant mercy upon it and bringing to it the dew of life.

In this way we can explain the verse cited at the beginning of the discourse. “Man does not live by bread alone” meaning that the study of Torah, which is compared to bread, cannot by itself give life. It must be accompanied by an awareness that that “it is the word of
G-d”—that the Torah is G-d’s wisdom and a means to connect with Him. And with this recognition the soul receives its recussitation.


[1] Likutei Torah.

[2] Deuteronomy 8:3.

[3] Exodus 16:13-4, see Rashi there.

[4] Chagigah 12b.

[5] Deuteronomy 8:3.

[6] Zohar 1:11b.

[7] Job 15:15.

[8] Hayom Yom 18 Kislev, (p. 113).

[9] Ecclesiastes 1:14.

[10] Isaiah 26:19.

[11] Zohar 2:61b.



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